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Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

End of life....

Last week a friend committed suicide. We--Jane and I--were in Oregon when we got the news. His wife said he had been missing since the night before, so we flew to California to be with her. We found the note the next morning. Later that day, search dogs tracked his scent to the river's edge. His body has still not been found. So I've been reflecting on death, emotion, and identity. We each create a self--by which I mean the complex we refer to when we say "I"--from a varied set of details and images and descriptions. This creation takes twenty years or so, which is why the period from our late `teens to early 20's tends to remain the most vivid of our lives. It's in these years we feel we've come into our own. I've finished the story of my self. But since this story is compounded from so many occasions and over so many years, it's filled with inconsistencies. Even contradictions. Nevertheless, it's my story, and I cling to it. But eventually a crisis threatens my story. In my case, it was the end of my twenty-five year marriage, now over twenty-five years ago. That's when I felt suicidal. To go on, I would have to give up central parts of my story, of my self. I was forced to choose between my familiar story and a new one that had yet to be written, and I was afraid. In my case, affection and love convinced me I could construct a new story. But that didn't erase the pain of having to give up my original self. It's terrifying to face a future without a familiar structure. Terrifying enough to choose death instead. I'm glad that love saved me. I'm sorry that it couldn't save my friend...

2 Comments:

Blogger Blake Becker said...

Sorry to heaer about your friend John.

-Blake

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh yes, the narrative view of life…more than simply the ego seeking shelter from a finite existence? Whether to hang on to the bitter end with biomedical technology squeezing out each last second or to elect one’s exit is more than a question. Often times the latter course is the quintessential selfish act. The “I” that is extinguished (from whatever sources of pain that happened to be so anointed) is calculated to be more important than the pain to others resulting from such an act, and discounts all other forms of utility of one’s life (e.g. fixing up a children’s park). But the narrative view of one’s life is its own source of distortion. Romantic clinging and desiring are adult versions of womb seeking, and as J. Krishnamurti used to say; where there is fear there cannot be love. Love is not about property rights that can somehow be acquired and lost; it is more an orientation that appreciates all opportunities for extending caring and bearing witness for another life. The very desire to own supplements authentic related with fear and even worst manipulation. And the freer another feels to continuously access their potential the more likely they are to share the sunsets. Yet the narrative view of life also undermines our ability to engage it; fixing huts in Bohol Provence, smelling the roses in a park in Baden Baden, the joy in mom’s voice serving up warm blue berry pie, finding exons that are significantly up regulated in miRNA, are all experiences of my life that are all the more intense and real when one is fully present to them. Seek no story in life; when hungry eat, when tired sleep.
Ed

12:52 PM  

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